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Mesa comes oh so close

Laguna Beach's Pillsbury hits a huge game-winning three-pointer with just four seconds left for key league win over Mustangs.

January 21, 2011|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza, david.carrillo@latimes.com
(Scott Smeltzer…)

COSTA MESA — First place in the Orange Coast League and the Costa Mesa High boys' basketball team mentioned in the same sentence might sound odd.

But that is where the Mustangs stood Friday night. That is where Coach Bryan Rice expected the Mustangs to be after four league games, quite a turnaround for a team that won a total of three games last season.

In the way, Laguna Beach, the only known winner since the Orange Coast League began in 2006-07. Costa Mesa, leading by four points, was 37 seconds away from beating the Breakers.

Then normalcy returned to the league, if you can call what transpired late at Costa Mesa that. The Breakers remained in first place, barely.

A player with the last name Pillsbury hurt the Mustangs in the stomach down the stretch. Jack Pillsbury drained his only two shots of the game, back-to-back three-pointers in a 21-second span.

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The last one did the most damage. From the corner, Pillsbury hit the game-winner with four seconds left, allowing Laguna Beach to rally for a 37-36 victory and stay perfect in league play.

Things did not look so wonderful afterward for Laguna Beach Coach Bret Fleming, or his players who just stole a game to improve to 4-0 in league.

It seemed like two teams suffered their first setback in league.

The Breakers sat in the locker room while Fleming chewed them out for their play. Through the first three quarters, Laguna Beach managed just 16 points and trailed Costa Mesa by eight points.

In the fourth quarter, Laguna Beach topped that total in the fourth quarter, finishing with 21 points. The three-point shot played a big role in the outburst as the Breakers made five of seven from behind the arc.

"We just got lucky," Fleming said.

"The win means nothing. The win means absolutely nothing."

It would have meant a whole lot for the Mustangs (9-11, 3-1 in league). They appeared on their way to knocking off Laguna Beach for the first time since Jan. 12, 2007, and taking control of first place.

The Mustangs began believing they were league title contenders, like in the 2005-06 season, when they won the Golden West League crown.

Costa Mesa led, 35-31, with 37 seconds left. The Mesa Maniacs, students sitting on the bleachers near the court, could not have imagined a Laguna Beach team scoring six points the rest of the way, when they saw the Breakers record just six points combined in the third and second quarters.

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